“The chaos witnessed at the State of the Nation Address (SONA) 2015 was hugely embarrassing domestically and internationally for the South African nation. It was a sad day for our nascent and hitherto exemplary African democracy,” lamented Bishop Zipho Siwa, President of the SACC and Presiding Bishop of the MCSA speaking from India, where he is preaching at an international conference. “Such unfortunate and unparliamentary behavior does not augur well for the future of the rainbow nation and negatively affects both voter and investor confidence. It only serves to entrench the groundswell of negative sentiment towards our country and as such, risks gradually impacting our economy in ways which will hurt its growth.”
“The increasing reliance on political muscle and a failure to listen to each other’s grievances can only lead to heightened public dissatisfaction and a repeat of the continued political lashing out we are currently witnessing. To use a cliché, history has a tendency to repeat itself because no one listens. The scenes witnessed at the SONA 2015, orchestrated by the EFF and the DA, aggressively dealt with by the ANC, raise serious concerns for us as a church. They are symptomatic of growing disgruntlement with the way the country is being governed. We urge all stakeholders to observe parliamentary procedures of debate which are underpinned by the Constitution of the Republic to avoid further turmoil which could culminate in civil unrest in the country.
We commend the serious attention given to the energy and water crises crippling the nation in President Zuma’s address. We will watch and hold the government accountable for the implementation of the short and long term plans outlined by the President.
We would have liked to hear more informed strategies to deal with poverty, education and the health sector crises. Concrete strategies to facilitate the redistribution of land have yet to be carefully formulated, an urgent concern given the reported increase in farm invasions. The continuing violent service delivery protests, the resurgence of xenophobic attacks and the unbridled looting of foreign owned shops are symptomatic of the underlying corruption and socio-economic issues which, if not dealt with competently, have the potential to negatively impact the moral fibre as well as the economy of our country.
The churches pray that government and opposition parties will reach a consensus on the decorum of debate, astutely engage in conversations and dialogue that will heal our nation and advance the causes of Nelson Mandela’s proud nation, grow our economy and improve the living standards of our people. Ordinary people demand that our office bearers discharge of their duties in a manner which will solve the concerns of the common man. This is the mandate upon which all stakeholders are elected to office, universally.
Released on behalf of Bishop Zipho Siwa
Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa and President of the SACC